The fact that Loisel et Tripp, Traits Complices is one of only two films at FIFA featuring comic strips is surprising: after watching the 52-minute documentary, cartoonists are undoubtedly some of the finest artists working.
Regis Loisel and Jean-Louis Tripp are the two minds behind the Le Magasin General series of books about a small town in rural Quebec. Traits Complices follows the two Frenchmen as they come up with story ideas for their characters. Most importantly, it also shows the artists’ incredible work ethic and the immense time commitment needed to put a comic strip together.
Loisel is first to draw a sketch of what each box and page will look like. What looks like doodling and simple line drawing turns into intricate landscapes, neighborhoods, faces, houses, and dogs after hours of drawing, erasing and switching between many HB-numbered pencils. “Now I can start drawing,” he finally says. He darkens and redraws borders and puts the final touches, with his trusty eraser never too far away.
Tripp then goes through Loisel’s drawings to ensure consistency from page to page. His trained eye notices that one character’s shoes are different in two separate boxes. He also notices an inconsistency in a dog’s spots (they should be around his right eye, not left). This is where the two friends often get into spats. In one instance, Loisel loses a whole day’s worth of work when Tripp is less-than-pleased with his friend’s drawings. When Loisel and Tripp work, the sound of their breathing is all you can hear.
The cartoonists strive for perfection and accuracy. They often go to villages in Quebec for inspiration and aren’t strangers to walking through forests to get a clear picture of how shrubs and trees bend. They often resort to their antique-collecting friend, Michel Laurent, for advice on the items featured in their strip; one example is a cash register from the 1920s.
Francois Lapierre is the dedicated colorist Loisel and Tripp trust to give their drawings the perfect brightness, light and shading. One area the Frenchmen need help with is dialogue; in comes Jimmy Beaulieu, a Quebecois who helps the characters in Magasin General sound authentic by using expressions like “Tu peux-tu” and “ti-cul”. In the scene with Beaulieu, Loisel and Tripp attempt to speak in “joual,” Quebec French slang, which hilariously becomes the highlight of the film.
Loisel et Tripp, Traits Complices is a fun and short film to watch. It’s also inspiring to see two men and friends so dedicated to their work that they put disagreements aside for the sake of the project.
Loisel et Tripp, Traits Complices will be screened March 25 at 6:30 p.m. and March 27 at 4 p.m. at La Grande Bibliotheque (475 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E.)